feature: finding picture perfect with Naomi Wong
Meet Naomi Wong. Image creator, director and storyteller. Infatuated with nostalgia, the British-Chinese photographer has worked with leading brands and publications offering her unique perspective on youth culture in the UK.The Scunthorpe raised creative, qualified for 2017's BAFTA Short Film Festival in London with her short film, Naturally Lazy. Peeping into the lives of her friends and fellow creatives, Naomi's work is personal and dreamy as she shoots in film entirely. We caught up with Naomi to chat about her processes and find out more about the most recent project in her hometown. Keep up with Naomi via her Instagram @naomiwongo and via her website www.naomi-wong.com
We worked with Naomi on one of our most recent campaigns, featuring the Nike P-6000, you can see the full campaign here.
Hi Naomi, it’s lovely to catch up with you, we recently worked with you on a special Nike project, which we thoroughly enjoyed! For our audience members who might not know this, could you share with them who you are and what you do?
Hey! My name is Naomi and I’m a British-Chinese photographer with a love for shooting on film. My work is made up of a mix of documentary and constructed images with a focus on portraiture and fashion.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
Being able to tell or capture a story and having the opportunity to always meet new interesting and different people. I love that it gives me the ability to interact and spend time with someone for a short period of time and to see what we create in that moment together. It’s also been something that has helped me come out of my shell over the years since I was a teenager.
You've been shooting with film since the age of 17 years old, what areas of film photography are you yet to explore?
Medium format! I’m waiting for the right time on the right project. It seems so much more intricate and different to shooting on 35mm which I find so exciting. I have a lot of friends who shoot on medium format and are down to teach me, I’m still just a lil’ nervous about it.
Your work often focuses on nostalgia, how do you think this perspective on your subjects have changed since working on Naturally Lazy? Are you still curious about this theme?
I don’t think it has, I am still a nostalgic baby! I do feel like with film I can explore the subject more through moving image and storytelling that flows and makes you feel and experience more through sound too. In terms of my photo work, there’s still a hint of that there but the focus is more on the person that I’m photographing. I’ll like to bring more of my personal experiences into this soon but I’ll need to experience time more to be able to share a new perspective.
Can you show us your favourite image that you have recently shot, and tell us what you love it?
(See below) This is not super recent but I love this portrait I shot of my friend, Milly. I think Milly just got back from somewhere in Spain with super leftover tan lines and we were shooting with some clothes in my sister’s flat. I love how blue her eyes are here peeping a little, the tan lines and the light that filters in slightly in the shot.
If you only had ONE film camera and ONE type of film to shoot with forever what would they be and why?
A Contax G2 and my usual Kodak ColorPlus 200! I have always loved Contax cameras and I finally got to shoot on one properly recently thanks to my friend, Nicole. It’s just so lush and to hold it just feels special. I like how fast it snaps shots and captures movement. The film has just been what I’ve been shooting on for years and I love the colours it gives. I really miss the AGFA film they used to stock in Poundland too. Before they stopped selling it, I honestly thought I would be shooting that forever.
Spending some time growing up in Hong Kong and being a big fan of Chinese director, Wong Kar-wai, what do you love about the Chinese culture you grew up with and what references from the East do you enjoy focusing on in your photography work?
I’ve been lucky and real fortunate to be brought up with Chinese culture and traditions by my family. There was a time when I refused to speak Chinese Cantonese because I felt embarrassment or something like that when I was 8 or 9 and realised years later how bad that was! Like what was I ashamed about? I love the customs of decency and respect for others and the strong family ties we have. And of course, Hong Kong pop stars and films too. I thank my sister for digging up all these 90s films that were apart of our childhoods and Stephen Chow films. In terms of references from the East, I like to photograph my East Asian friends I’m close with as well as fellow East Asian creatives. I grew up without many East Asian friends at all or who I would say ‘girls that looked like me’ and now that I have these friendships, they feel a lot different - a bit like a sisterhood and I feel at home when we spend time together. I would like to reference more of it in future projects. My favourite so far is probably this shot I took of my friend Wenchu in my favourite Cantonese restaurant ever(!!) in London called New Tastes - https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl0h-5qlLK8/
You're currently working on a project spotlighting your hometown of Scunthorpe, what made you decide to focus on the area you grew up?
I think growing up there played a big part in who I am now as I have got older and grown up from childhood. I grew up with two very different cultural backgrounds in a small Northern town and there was a real confusion of my own identity at times because of that. With this project, I want to really dig into my own personal experiences and I feel like there’s so much for me to explore and say about that.
Do you have any tips for what we can get up to in Scunthorpe?
Either Kingstons or Scalinis for fish and chips, it’s just so good up North. They just can’t do it right in London! My friend Danny and I used to always drive around the countryside in the summer for hours and go on long walks. Twigmoor Woods is probably one of my favourite spots. There are also some amazing charity shops around town run by the loveliest ladies and you can always find something pretty amazing. The local art gallery/centre 20-21 is sweet too, I spent most of my time there when I was a kid.
What are 5 songs on your summer playlist for 2019?
It’s quite a mix but I guess you have to have something that fits every mood!
FACE - Brockhampton
Jungle Drums - Xavier Cugart
Starry Night - Peggy Gou
Une Barque Sur L'océan - André Laplante
S.O.S in Bel Air - Phoenix
Name the summer sneaks that you're currently living in.
I’ve been living in Nike Cortez for like five years. My mum gave me a pair in 2014 and I have bought a new pair every time they’ve fallen apart! I love trainers that look like they’re from the 70s or 80s and have a place in history and pop culture. My friend from film school called them my Forrest Gump shoes. Apart from my Cortezes, I will be living in a brand new pair of white Air Force 1s with very, very white socks too. Also got my eye on some Converse Chuck 70 Renew Ox though!
Are you going on any fun trips this summer?
It’s not exactly summer but I’m planning a few trips with some friends in September. We’re going to try and catch some last rays of sun somewhere warm hopefully! I did spend a few days in Corfu with my friend Connor in May though. It was beautiful, we spent some time by the sea and I hitchhiked on my last day to pick a few fresh oranges before my flight.
What are you excited for in the future?
I have something exciting to announce at the end of August that involves a portrait of my mum that I shot a while back. I’m most excited about what I’ll end up getting up to a year from now and how my Scunthorpe project will pan out even if it will take a year or two. I’m also excited to see where all my creative friends will be! <